Delegates arrived in London on a beautiful spring day in May. Londoners were still shaking off the last vestiges of winter and only two weeks before there was snow on the ground! There is something about sunny blue skies and warm temperatures that brings out the best in a destination – and London is no exception.
We enjoyed a glorious cruise down the Thames River, from Westminster to Greenwich, which gives you a completely different perspective of the city.
While in Greenwich, the curators of the National Maritime Museum had set out a display of antipodean naval documents and artefacts from Captain James Cook and Matthew Flinders – especially for our group.
Other highlights of the conference included exclusive access to Australia House for a cocktail reception in the Great Hall with a presentation from the Deputy High Commissioner, Andrew Todd. Mid conference, delegates dressed in their finest 60’s gear and rocked to an extremely good Beatle’s tribute band – The Upbeat Beatles.
The Gala banquet event was held in the stunning Guildhall, a medieval Grade I listed landmark. This was a truly grand setting and is used for glittering banquets in honour of visiting Heads of State, royal occasions and receptions for major historical anniversaries. Had we been a week earlier, we would have been tossed out as the Guildhall was used for a reception to honour Baroness Maggie Thatcher’s memory.
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The education program was a mix of Australian speakers interspersed with locally sourced experts. This made for a varied program and an opportunity for our delegates to hear what was happening on the international scene.
After nearly a week of fine weather, we were being accredited with bringing the fine weather to London. It was certainly uncanny then that on the day of departure, the cold winds and heavy rain once again blew in and returned London to its usual grey state. Whatever the case, we enjoyed everything that London had to offer – and not just the weather. As Samuel Johnson once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”.